Are We Living in a Rape Culture? by Carol P. Christ


 

rape in the military rape in war rape in sports rape in the university rape in fraternities rape at parties rape on the way home rape in the car rape on the street rape in the park rape in the home rape on the couch rape on the bed rape on the floor rape in a closed room rape in the dark rape in the light rape in marriage rape on the job rape in the bible rape on tv rape in great works of art rape by a friend rape by a neighbor rape by a friend of the family rape by a member of the family rape by men with power rape by men without power rape by someone you know rape by someone you do not know rape as power rape as domination rape as humiliation rape as violation

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silence

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is not

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golden

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carol at green party 2014 croppedCarol leads the life-transforming Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete (facebook) spring and fall–early bird discount available now on the 2015 tours.  Carol can be heard in interviews on Voices of the Sacred Feminine, Goddess Alive Radio, and Voices of Women.  Her books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and with Judith Plaskow, the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions and the forthcoming Turning to the World: Goddess and God in Our Time. Follow Carol on GoddessCrete on Twitter.

Tomorrow is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

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Categories: Feminism, Feminism and Religion, General, Naming, Women's Voices

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

22 replies

  1. Think you’ve just identified what should be the most important theme/issue of third wave feminism.

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  2. I’d say yes, thanks Carol. But how do we define rape culture? I couldn’t find anything online that rang true at first, and then I came up with this:

    “‘You were drinking, what did you expect?’ Those were the first words that I heard when I went to someone I trusted for support after my roommate’s boyfriend raped me eight years ago. When I came forward to report what happened, instead of support, many well-meaning people close to me asked me questions about what I was wearing, if I had done something to cause the assault, or if I had been drinking. These questions about my choices the night of my assault — as opposed to the choices made by my rapist — were in some ways as painful as the violent act itself.”

    from “Rape Culture is Real,” by Zerlina Mazwell, Time Magazine

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    • Yes, and a rape culture is exactly that, one that does not believe that some nice guys are rapists, whether “my roommate’s boyfriend” or “Bill Cosby.” A rape culture blames the victim and covers for the rapist. There is more, a rape culture is one where rape is common and covered up. The term “rape culture” was new to me when Gina Messina-Dysert first used it on FAR a few years ago, but of course the facts it describes began to brought to light long long ago in the early 1970s.

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  3. Οι Οικολόγοι Πράσινοι βορείου Αιγαίου για την Διεθνή Ημέρα για την Εξάλειψη της Βίας κατά των γυναικών

    Το Θέμα της βία κατά των γυναικών είναι ένα παγκόσμιο ζήτημα που μας φορά και εμάς στην Ελλάδα. Το πρόβλημα δεν είναι μεγαλύτερο στην Ελλάδα από αλλά ευρωπαϊκά κράτη, η διαφορά έγκειται στο γεγονός ότι η δημόσια συζήτηση για το πρόβλημα της βίας στο σπίτι έχει ανοίξει στην Ελλάδα μόλις τα τελευταία χρόνια.

    Οι Οικολόγοι Πράσινοι καλούς τις γυναίκες σε όλα τα νησιά μας «να σπάσουν τη σιωπή» και να απευθυνθούν στις κατά τόπους δομές στήριξης για να βρουν βοήθεια στα προβλήματα ενδοοικογενειακής βίας.

    Η Καρολίνα Κρίστ, υποψήφια βουλευτής των Οικολόγων Πράσινων στις πρόσφατες εκλογές, και καθηγήτρια γυναικείων σπουδών έκανε την παρακάτω δήλωση:

    «Όταν περπάτησα στα χωρία για τις εκλογές και ήμουν μόνη μου με γυναίκες πάντα είπα ότι μια από της αρχές μας είναι η «μη βια». Τα μάτια των γυναικών που συναντούσα τα έλεγαν όλα. Πιστεύω ότι δεν υπάρχει γυναίκα στην Ελλάδα–η και παντού–που δεν ξέρει προσωπικά, ή από κάποια φίλη τι σημαίνει βία μέσα στο σπίτι και πως η βία βλάπτει ζωές. Δεν μπορεί να υπάρχει ισότητα ανδρών και γυναικών όταν η γυναίκα υφίσταται βία. Η βία στο σπίτι δεν αρχίζει από «γυναίκεια σφάλματα» ούτε από «ανδρικό θυμό.»
    Η βία στο σπίτι αρχίζει από την κυριαρχία και από την ιδέα που έχουν κάποιοι ότι ο άνδρας έχει πάντα δίκιο. Για αυτό και δυο από τις αρχές των Οικολόγων πράσινων η «μη βία» και η «κοινωνική δικαιοσύνη» συμπληρώνουν η μια την άλλη. Είναι ώρα επιτέλους να μάθουν όλοι ότι η βία στο σπίτι δεν πρέπει αν υπάρχει πια.»

    My first press release written for the Green Party of the North Aegean for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

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    • The Green Party of the North Aegean on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
      The question of violence of women is an international issue which affects Greece too. The problem is not greater in Greece than in other European countries. The difference is that a public discussion of the issue has just begun in Greece in recent years.
      The Green Party of the North Aegean calls upon all women of our islands to “break the silence” and to seek help from groups that are there to help them.
      Karolina Krist (me) Candidate for Parliament in the last national elections and Professor of Women’s Studies said the following:
      “When I was walking through the villages before the election, and when i was alone with women, I always said that one of our principles is “no violence.” The eyes of the women I was with spoke volumes. I believe that there is not a woman in Greece–or anywhere else for that matter–who does not know from personal experience or from a friend what violence in the home is and how it destroys lives. Violence in the home is not caused by “women’s mistakes” or by “men’s anger.”
      Violence in the home is caused by male domination and the idea that some people have that “the man is always right.” It is time for everyone to learn that violence in the home must stop.”

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  4. Wow! Carol, powerfully written. I would add, rape of the land, of Mother Earth.

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  5. Wow. Very profound. And very true. Yes, I suspect that we’ve lived in a rape culture ever since those horsemen Gimbutas called Kurgans galloped out of the Caucasus Mountains (today the various “-stan” nations) and the Russian steppes into Old Europe, ever since the various tribes in what is now the Middle East and South Asia began jostling for space. And since movies seem to have made rape an action-adventure for the big boys.

    But, Carol, I can’t read your Greek press release.

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  6. Gun violence seems to be an extension of rape culture, the demand for superiority and dominance. And still we wonder why there is so much killing in this country. If we ever found a solution to one issue, we would most certainly solve the other as well. Striking post, Carol. Thank you.

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  7. I find the word “rape” no longer has impact or meaning. It’s a distant word…..an owner-less word. It doesn’t say MALE MENTAL ILLNESS CRIME against women and children. Rape has become tame, innocuos……like hazing.

    Who is profiling the beliefs and personality and character of the man/boy who rapes?

    Who is studying the parenting of and by rapists?

    How do men REALLY view this behavior?

    I don’t believe we are suddenly in a “rape culture”….this has been status quo in homes, businesses and schools/universities for all time in all countries.

    To me, the phenomenon is the average male who rapes and the next day goes about his life. Does he feel guilt?

    Blessings to you all. MJ

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    • You and Barbara are right we did not suddenly begin to live in a rape culture. Rape has been with us all throughout patriarchy, let’s say for 5000 years so years in Europe, less in some places, more in others. What is sudden and new is that women have broken the silence over the past 40 or so years and we are beginning, but only beginning to blame the rapist rather than the victim.

      On Melissa Harris Perry over the weekend they were discussing rape and it was stated that most men are not rapists and in fact most rapists are serial rapists–like the man they were discussing, Bill Cosby. There was an article on most rapists being serial rapists MS magazine sometime in the past few years. In group situations such as war or sigghh fraternities men who would not rape can be induced to rape in order to prove their manhood or for purposes of male bonding.

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  8. Yes. and I might add: a delayed move AWAY from silence is not a lie.

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    • There are many reasons women remain silent, including shame, fear of being blamed, feeling no one will believe them, and of course the fact that it is almost impossible to win a rape case in court if there is no witness which of course usually there is not.

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  9. I have to reiterate what’s already been said: ever since patriarchy got established, we’ve lived in a rape culture. Just as an example, the introduction of “bride theft” into Greek culture when the Indo-Europeans invaded (this is when a man abducts a woman, rapes her and declares her his wife). What’s new is not only women’s speaking about what has been done to them against their will, but also — and amazingly to me, after waiting 45 years — that men have begun to take on this issue as well.

    I’ve known some good men who started groups like “Men Stopping Rape” 25 years ago. But they had little impact, as far as I can tell. But my local newspaper just ran an Associated Press article a week ago about two programs started and run by men that seem to have a high probability of changing our culture when it comes to violence against women. One is “Coaching Boys Into Men,” developed by Futures Without Violence, a nonprofit working to curb abuse of women and children. Thousands of (male) high school coaches across the country have received training in how to convey to their players the importance of treating young women with respect and avoiding abusive behavior. If the jocks in our high schools get this message, we’ll see a lot of imitative behavior on the part of wannabes.

    The other program is “Offender-Focused Domestic Violence Initiative,” which targets abusers with a strategy of aggressive deterrence. Whenever the police respond to a domestic violence call, even if there’s no arrest, the alleged aggressor receives another visit from police within 48 hours and is notified that he’s on a “watch list.” There are escalating consequences if anything else happens. What’s so good about this program is that it changes the onus from the victim, who until now had to press charges — and with that possibly endanger herself even more — to the abuser, who from the first is dealing with the police.

    As a rape survivor, I’ve always felt that rape is a male problem, and that meant that men had to change. Let’s hope this is the beginning of that change.

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  10. I was in no doubt after reading Brownmiller’s “Against our will: men, women and rape”. It was a difficult read emotionally, but was worth it to prove to myself that these are never isolated incidents but part of an attitude I’m committed to see changed.

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  11. As a survivor of childhood rape, I want to say the issue of silence is a whole different story. Especially if you are a child who doesn’t even have the mental, linguistic concept of “rape” to make sense of her experience. How to speak when there are really no words, really.

    For my entire time growing up, well through adolescence, I had immense anxiety about any kind of speaking at all. Obviously this made it impossible for me to make friends. So, I withdrew deeply into my own being. Deep, deep, deep into… Silence. It was there, in that Silence, in that place words could never touch, that I realized God.

    Thank you deeply for your speaking out on this issue.

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    • When I was teaching I was “witness” to many women’s first speech to anyone about their sexual abuse, especially incest, which they had never spoken about to anyone. I felt honored and sadly I realized that incest is everywhere…

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  12. My friend and fellow CIIS student Susan Diane Mitchell posted this podcast about rape culture, in discussion with her partner, Rev Majadi Baruti: http://majadi.podomatic.com/entry/2014-09-04T17_32_43-07_00

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